Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison

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Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin
Argued December 7, 1950
Decided January 15, 1951
Full case nameDean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin
Citations340 U.S. 349 (more)
71 S. Ct. 295; 95 L. Ed. 329
The ordinance unjustifiably discriminates against interstate commerce, in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Fred M. Vinson
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Felix Frankfurter · William O. Douglas
Robert H. Jackson · Harold H. Burton
Tom C. Clark · Sherman Minton
Case opinions
MajorityClark, joined by Vinson, Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson, Burton
DissentBlack, joined by Douglas, Minton

Dean Milk Co. v. City of Madison, Wisconsin, 340 U.S. 349 (1951), was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with the Dormant Commerce Clause, used to prohibit states from limiting interstate commerce.


The court held that a municipal ordinance requiring all milk sold in Madison to be pasteurized at an approved plant within 5 miles of the city, unconstitutionally discriminated against interstate commerce.

Illinois milk producer, Dean Milk, on appeal from a state court holding that found the municipal ordinance to be reasonable, charged that the true purpose of the ordinance was to protect local industries from competition from non-local producers.


In the court's opinion, Justice Clark said: "In thus erecting an economic barrier protecting a major local industry against competition from without the state, Madison plainly discriminates against interstate commerce. This it cannot do, even in the exercise of its unquestioned power to protect the health and safety of the people, if reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives... are available".

The fact that in-state producers were also discriminated against was not found to be relevant to the fact that it discriminated against interstate commerce.

Justices Vinson, Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson, and Burton concurred.

Justices Black, Douglas and Minton dissented on the grounds that any imposition on commerce is minor compared to the city's need to insure their milk is healthy without burdening their inspectors.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Eule, Julian N. (1982). "Laying the Dormant Commerce Clause to Rest". The Yale Law Journal. The Yale Law Journal Company, Inc. 91 (3): 425–485. doi:10.2307/795926. JSTOR 795926.

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